|The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota has provided some initial details on the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept to be unveiled next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The Plug-in Prius will support an all-electric driving range of about 20 km (12.4 miles) miles at speeds up to 62 mph. Over longer distances and higher speeds, the Prius Plug-in switches to conventional gasoline-electric full hybrid operation. The extended electric range brings CO2 emissions down to around 60 g/km, according to Toyota.
Toyota’s presentation of the new concept, which is based on the new third-generation Prius, comes ahead of a test program that will see more than 500 cars leased to customers worldwide for real-world evaluation of performance and monitoring of driver attitudes and experiences. Approximately 150 of these will be in Europe, with another 150 in the US and 200 in Japan. (Earlier post.)
Europe’s population is increasingly urban-centered, and Toyota research into commuting patterns shows that in the UK and France, more than 80% of car journeys cover a distance of less than 25 km (16 miles); in the UK around 80% are less than 10 km (6 miles) long. Toyota says that these figures confirm the potential for electricity in providing short to mid-term sustainable mobility.
The concept plug-in model builds on the core technology of Hybrid Synergy Drive specifically to meet the needs of urban motorists. It is a full hybrid vehicle in which both the electric motor and gasoline engine can drive the wheels: the fully electric EV mode is used for shorter distances, while the gasoline engine provides long-range capability.
The Prius Plug-in Concept’s powertrain is similar in format to the Hybrid Synergy Drive used in the new Prius (earlier post), but with the nickel-metal hydride battery pack replaced by a new, high-output lithium-ion battery—a first for a Toyota hybrid vehicle. The Li-ion pack can be fully recharged in one-and-a-half hours from a 230V power supply.
To help drivers maximize the benefits of driving in EV mode, it is equipped with a Hybrid System Indicator, which includes information on the EV driving range, based on the level of battery charge. An engine starting point display has also been added to emphasize the increase in EV driving range.
The Electro Multi-Vision screen on the dashboard also offers a display that highlights the plug-in hybrid’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, showing a computer graphic image of single tree that gradually increases to whole forest as the battery charging process takes place.